Identification of Key Genes Associated with Triacylglycerol Biosynthesis in Avocado Fruit

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A variety of plants are natural resources for oil and are capable of synthesizing and storing up to 90% oil (dry weight) in the form of triacylglycerols (TAGs). TAGs are commonly used as vegetable oils of which, >35% is derived from fleshy part of the fruits, such as mesocarp of oil palm, avocado, and olive. Studies on TAG synthesis in seed tissues mostly implicated an acyl CoA-dependent enzyme, diacylglycerol (DAG) acyltransferase (DGAT) to catalyze the conversion of DAG to TAG. However, recent studies on Arabidopsis and oil palm suggested participation of a phospholipid:diacylglycerol acyltransferase (PDAT), which is an acyl-CoA-independent enzyme. In avocados, which store up to 70% oil in mesocarp, I hypothesize that both DGAT and PDAT are likely involved in TAG synthesis. To test the hypothesis, I determined TAG content and composition by gas chromatography (GC) and expression levels of DGAT and PDAT genes by real-time PCR, in developing mesocarp. These data will be compared to that of seed tissues of avocado to associate gene expression levels with changes in oil accumulation. Future studies on cloning and characterization of these potential acyltransferase genes involved in TAG synthesis will allow us to develop genetic tools that may increase oil yield; a step towards meeting the consumption demand for oil that is expected to almost double by 2030.


Johnson City, TN

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